Science Test

The CAAP Science Test is a 45-item, 40-minute test designed to measure students' skills in scientific reasoning. The contents of the Science Test are drawn from biological sciences (e.g., biology, botany, and zoology), chemistry, physics, and the physical sciences (e.g., geology, astronomy, and meteorology). The test emphasizes scientific reasoning skills rather than recall of scientific content or a high level of skill in mathematics or reading. A total score is provided for the Science Test; no subscores are provided.

The test consists of eight passage sets, each of which contains scientific information and a set of multiple-choice test questions. A passage may conform to one of the three different formats listed below.

  • Data Representation. This format presents students with graphic and tabular material similar to that found in science journals and texts. The items associated with this format measure skills such as graph reading, interpretation of scatterplots, and interpretation of information presented in tables, diagrams, and figures.
  • Research Summaries. This format provides students with descriptions of one experiment or of several related experiments. The items focus on the design of experiments and the interpretation of experimental results. The stimulus and items are written expressly for the Science Test, and all relevant information is completely presented in the text of the stimulus or in the test questions.
  • Conflicting Viewpoints. This format presents students with several hypotheses or views that are mutually inconsistent owing to differing premises, incomplete or disputed data, or differing interpretations of data. The stimuli may include illustrative charts, graphs, tables, diagrams, or figures. Items in this format measure students' skills in understanding, analyzing, and comparing alternative viewpoints or hypotheses.

Passage Format Summary for the CAAP Science Test

Passage Format Proportion of Test Number of Items
Data Representation .33 15
Research Summaries .54 24
Conflicting Viewpoints .13 6
Total 1.00 45

The 45 test items in the Science Test can be conceptualized in three major groups. Each group is meant to address an important major element of scientific inquiry. The groups are listed below, along with brief descriptions of typical knowledge and skills tested.

  • Understanding. Identify and evaluate scientific concepts, assumptions, and components of an experimental design or process; identify and evaluate data presented in graphs, figures, or tables; translate given data into an alternate form.
  • Analyzing. Process information needed to draw conclusions or to formulate hypotheses; determine whether information provided supports a given hypothesis or conclusion; evaluate, compare, and contrast experimental designs or viewpoints; specify alternative ways of testing hypotheses or viewpoints.
  • Generalizing. Extend information given to a broader or different context; generate a model consistent with given information; develop new procedures to gain new information; use given information to predict outcomes.

Item Classification Summary for the CAAP Science Test

Item Classification Proportion of Test Number of Items
Understanding .18–.22 8–10
Analyzing .49–.53 22–24
Generalizing .27–.33 12–15
Total 1.00 32